Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to join the Movement for Black Lives’ (M4BL) free 2020 Black National Convention (BNC)’s live broadcast on August 28, the organization announced on July 1, to create “a vision for Black Lives before the biggest election of our time, and long after,” according to M4BL website.
Riding the wave of political unrest in defense of Black and Brown life, M4BL and the Electoral Justice Project (EJP)—an arm of M4BL that focuses on electoral strategy—will focus the BNC on organizing and building Black political power, by engaging people in the voting and political process to make sure community demands are met.
“The uprising in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and countless other murders from police and vigilante violence along with the alarming Black death rate due to COVID-19 has exposed what we can no longer hide—America does not value Black lives,” said M4BL organizer and political strategist Jessica Byrd, who leads the Electoral Justice Project (EJP). “But we also know that rising up and taking action is how Black communities have secured our rights and dignity throughout this nation’s divided history.”
This year’s convention will pay respect to the first National Black Political Convention in 1972, in Gary, Indiana, where according to the African American Registry, 8,000 Black folks rolled up chanting “It’s Nation Time!” The event hosted a who’s who of famed Black political and popular leaders, including then U.S. Presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm (D-N.Y.), Bobby Seale, Coretta Scott King, Betty Shabazz, Amiri Baraka, James Brown and Harry Belafonte to name a few.
Just as 1972’s convention inspired a policy book for Black communities, voters at this year’s convention will also ratify a Black agenda—titled Vision for Black Lives (V4BL)—following August 28’s convention, in preparation of November’s presidential election. To get Black voices heard, the 2020 BNC aims to reach four million Black voters to build a Black political infrastructure of engagement that will also create and ratify a policy platform for the next administration’s first 100 days.
On August 6-7, as a ramp-up to the August 28 convention, M4BL will host the “People’s Black National Convention” over two days. The invite-only event will bring together hundreds of delegates made up of activists and organizers to help set policies, programs and investments in their communities.
As Byrd wrote:
National standards mean that there is a baseline of defending Black lives, but we’re not just asking for the floor—we’re asking for the ceiling. To defend Black life means that not one person is killed senselessly by their government or a city official. It is not enough to say we shouldn’t be murdered…murder is already illegal in this country. What we want is for people to say we defend Black life because we want to celebrate you in the living. We intend to continue to advocate for real solutions, to connect those real solutions to local communities, and we will not let up until the budgets of our federal government, our state government, and our city government matches the requirement of what it takes to keep Black people alive in this country.